Collateral Damage: Suicides Due to Coronavirus Shutdown

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

How will they calculate the suicides in the coronavirus death numbers?

The answer to that is going to be very difficult as those numbers seem to be on a bigger lockdown than your fear-ridden, snitching neighbor. I witnessed the aftermath of a poor soul who decided to swan dive from an over-pass last week, splatting onto the 15 Freeway.  The following day I searched for any info on the departed and couldn’t find a word. I’ve now learned they don’t publish suicides for fear it will encourage others.

The lives lost from the our nation’s shutdown will be innumerable. I come from a family of first responders. From my firefighter contacts I’m being told people aren’t going to the hospital for fear of getting the virus, so they ignore the chest pains. They wait until they are in a diabetic coma, or they try to “just tough it out” when the appendix is bursting.  They finally call 911 when it is too severe or too late. Making matters worse is the additional time it takes for response because protocol has now gone from arrive with gloves, to arrive in full PPE head to toe. This adds precious minutes before they get out of the station.

Hospitals, as least here in CA, are not allowed to do “elective procedures,” which includes knee replacement, spine surgery, and other procedures that have been scheduled and would give pain relief. I have a friend who was to get bones fused in his neck on March 23rd in a private surgical center. No one wants surgery, but he had gotten to the point where it had to be done in order to have quality of life. It was cancelled, he has to live with the pain, and no massage or other treatments are now available. Dental implants that were scheduled? Not happening, live with your pegs until further notice. How many people are suffering right now? So while we are being lead to believe all hospitals are inundated, many are laying off personnel and bleeding money.  Several have entire floors that are closed, elective type surgeries, the kind that are approved by insurance companies in advance, are their bread and butter.

Police officer contacts have told me calls for domestic violence are way up. Families aren’t meant to be locked down under such stressful conditions, and a high number are breaking. Normally you’d take the abuser out of the home, but where do you put them? Home invasions are down, but business break-ins are on the rise. In NYC it’s said to be up 75%.

Then there are the people falling out of sobriety. Just today it was reported that online alcohol sales are up 243% with overall sales up 55%. I’m not sure this is even including the fact that we now have drive-through martinis. Yes, in several States you can pick up your margarita to go. Depression is sweeping the nation and people are trying to just get numb. I have a contact that works for a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, he said it’s never been so hard to keep people clean. In person AA meetings have been cancelled and online isn’t as effective. People with addiction problems get sober for a better life, or because they’ve hit rock bottom. The bottom seems to have gotten deeper and if they just lost their only tether, a job, it’s hard to envision a better life.

So in the coming days when you hear #DeathForTheDow or Trump is killing people for the economy, remember that the economy is people, not dollars. People that need to work to feed and house their families and believe in a future. The longer we are shut down, the more society will break down, and there is no way to know the real number of lives lost as collateral damage.